The ECOLISE General Assembly (GA) 2022 took place on Friday 20 May 2022. 75 participants from the ECOLISE team, Council and member organisations attended the one-day virtual event, facilitated by Erika Zárate and with French interpretation provided by Julian Gaillard and Yves Abanda.
“What would it mean to win?”
In his opening speech, ECOLISE Council Co-President Duncan Crowley reminded us to take a moment to reflect on why we came together in the first place, “Our home, planet earth, is being radically altered by our oil addiction and loss of connection with nature”. Contemplating the journey so far, the recent developments in the network and the road that lies ahead, Duncan called on the GA attendees to consider how they and their member groups can be part of this regenerative transformation: “Could ECOLISE be better, work better, serve better? If yes, what needs to be nudged to allow ECOLISE [to be] all it can be?”
Inspiring stories from ECOLISE members
Katarina Knežević Nikolić and Nevena Savić from Green Age Serbia spoke about the Yes to Sustainability Network, which was born out of GEN Europe. To overcome the challenges faced by many young people who want to take action but often lose motivation if their proposals are not successful, the network organises youth exchanges, mobility and training for youth leaders. Yes to Sustainability is a network of young people and youth workers whose aim is to bring together young people in ecovillages and sustainable projects in Europe.
Camilla Nielsen-Englyst and Maksym Zalevskyi from GEN Ukraine presented the Green Road Project. A ‘green road’ of ecovillages and eco-settlements large and small has been created and coordinated by members of GEN Ukraine and Permaculture Ukraine to offer shelter to those who have had to flee their homes. Some may stay just a night or a few days while they move towards the border; others have chosen to stay in the communities that have welcomed them and adapt to a new rural life.
If you would like to support this project, you can donate to GEN Europe and read and share Maksym’s letters documenting the daily reality, challenges, frustrations and hope found in coordinating and resettling refugees fleeing from the ongoing atrocities.
2021 Activities and Plans for 2022
During the morning sessions, ECOLISE team members presented the achievements and obstacles of the previous year and the plans for the year ahead. Jane Feeney, Communications and Campaigns Lead at ECOLISE, presented the 2021 Activity Report and invited members to give their input into Communities for Future communications activities. Nina Klein, Policy Lead, presented the plans and events for the ‘Advocate’ domain, including on community-led local development. Laura Kaestele, Network Weaver, spoke about plans to nurture network relationships and invited members to share their perspectives on the network’s health, development and impact through a network evaluation survey. Tim Strasser, Monitoring & Evaluation consultant, spoke about the monitoring & evaluation framework that will be developed not only for ECOLISE, but also to share with others from the network and look for synergies.
Project managers Ricardo Silva and Sara Silva took us on a whistlestop tour through the projects that ECOLISE is part of, such as Climate Campaigners, Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities, some that came to a close this year like UrbanA, among others. Abdul Otman, IT & Operations Manager, and Zsófia Vidak, Administrative Officer, from the ‘Support’ domain discussed the key tasks for 2022 to continue facilitating and supporting the ever-improving culture, coordination and governance systems within ECOLISE.
ECOLISE Co-Directors Pauliina Helle, Juan del Rio and Project Manager Sara Silva discussed the important culture building and governance transformation work that ECOLISE has been doing over the past year. Through the “caterpillar to butterfly process” steps are being taken to rebuild trust, build a healthy organisational culture, and work on internal safeguarding policies and social agreements.
Formal GA session
After lunch, the formal session and voting took place. The GA reached quorum and consented to all the documents presented.
Five new Council members were elected, alongside two continuing members Duncan Crowley and Leonor Afonso: Claudian Dobos (Romania in Tranzitie), Justin Stevens (Arkbound Foundation), Lina Čirvinskienė (Baltic Ecovillages Network), Marek Hartych (National Network of Local Action Groups in the Czech Republic) and Mieke Elzenga (GEN Europe/Liberta Care). We wish them a very warm welcome and look forward to collaborating over the coming year!
The GA came to a close on a very positive note. Member representatives commented on the greater connection and cohesion among the network and the hope and energy moving forward.